Scripture Reflections

June 1: Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Posted by Campus Ministry on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 6:00 AM PDT

a silhouette of a woman walking along the shore at sunset

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Today, we end the season of Easter and enter into Ordinary Time by marking the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This title of Mary was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council, where Paul VI called Mary “Mother of the Church,” and lifted her up as a model for all the faithful.  Today’s readings remind us that Mary is a model of discipleship: present at the foot of the Cross, and with the cohort of disciples that gather together after the Ascension, forming the early church as a community of prayer.

Even as we enter into liturgical Ordinary Time, we acknowledge that there is nothing ordinary about our times. It is abundantly clear that we live in a country where generations of systemic racism are bearing bitter fruit: police brutality, massive healthcare and economic inequality, white supremacy with impunity, and ruptured relationships in our communities. In addition to the stories that capture national attention, there are many more, unknown stories in neighborhoods around the country which daily drum home the message that black lives do not matter.

What does it mean for us to be a church in these all too ordinary, and yet disturbing times? I turn today to the model of Mary, and the women disciples with her, who journeyed to the foot of the cross – who bore prophetic witness to the killing of Jesus through state-sponsored brutality, joyfully proclaimed his resurrection, and came together with others to be a community of prayer and action. These are our ancestors in faith, role models of what it means to follow Jesus in unbearable times.

As I meet them today, I hear them ask me (and all of us):

  • Will we, as faithful followers of Christ, have the courage to stand with the crucified in our time? With those who say “I thirst?” and “I can’t breathe?” With black and brown folks who are disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic?  With black women shot unjustly by police in their own homes? With young black men, gunned down by their neighbors on a walk or a run? With those who are demonized and treated as though their lives do not matter?  
  • Will we take on the risk to our comfort that is required of every follower of Christ, joining with the women who have gone before us? Like them, will we bear witness, march hand in hand to cross and tomb, and care for the broken Body of Christ? Will we examine how the sin of racism has burrowed its way into our hearts, our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, and communities – and commit to concrete action to eradicate it from our world? Will we listen to experiences that are different from our own? Will we work for justice and reconciliation?
  • Will we also bear witness to resurrection life in Christ? Will we form communities of love, prayer and action, where differences are celebrated, and all find solace in despair? Will we offer imagination, hope, comfort, light, and love for one another? Will we remember the inherent dignity in divine image of every life, and proclaim with our prayer and our action that black lives matter?

These questions that call to us today from the scriptures are many and weighty. The Spirit invites us to answer “Yes,” just as it did of Mary when she gave her “yes” to a lifetime of seemingly impossible invitations. Following the path of discipleship is challenging, but the cost of continued Christian inaction in the face of racism is unbearable. Let us ask Mary the Mother of the Church to guide us in these ordinary times, that we may have the courage to say “yes” to bearing witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ in our world.

 

JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister